Paper Tangos

Overview

Tango. A multidimensional expression of Argentine identity, one that speaks to that nation’s sense of disorientation, loss, and terror. Yet the tango mesmerizes dancers and audiences alike throughout the world. In Paper Tangos, Julie Taylor—a classically trained dancer and anthropologist—examines the poetics of the tango while describing her own quest to dance this most dramatic of paired dances.
Taylor, born in the United States, has lived much of her adult life in Latin ...

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Paper Tangos

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Overview

Tango. A multidimensional expression of Argentine identity, one that speaks to that nation’s sense of disorientation, loss, and terror. Yet the tango mesmerizes dancers and audiences alike throughout the world. In Paper Tangos, Julie Taylor—a classically trained dancer and anthropologist—examines the poetics of the tango while describing her own quest to dance this most dramatic of paired dances.
Taylor, born in the United States, has lived much of her adult life in Latin America. She has spent years studying the tango in Buenos Aires, dancing during and after the terror of military dictatorships. This book is at once an account of a life lived crossing the borders of two distinct and complex cultures and an exploration of the conflicting meanings of tango for women who love the poetry of its movement yet feel uneasy with the roles it bestows on the male and female dancers. Drawing parallels among the violences of the Argentine Junta, the play with power inherent in tango dancing, and her own experiences with violence both inside and outside the intriguing tango culture, Taylor weaves the line between engaging memoir and insightful cultural critique. Within the contexts of tango’s creative birth and contemporary presentations, this book welcomes us directly into the tango subculture and reveals the ways that personal, political, and historical violence operate in our lives.
The book’s experimental design includes photographs on every page, which form a flip-book sequence of a tango. Not simply a book for tango dancers and fans, Paper Tangos will reward students of Latin American studies, cultural studies, anthropology, feminist studies, dance studies, and the art of critical memoir.

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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
“Julie Taylor has written a wonderful, brilliant book about the poetics of the tango in Argentina. . . . While its theoretical perspective is very sophisticated, it is also very clearly (though poetically), directly, and succinctly presented in a sparse, elegant, suggestive prose.”—Kathleen Stewart, University of Texas at Austin

“This is a highly unusual work, an allegory of violence and civil war through reflections on the tango by an unusually honest writer with an intimate knowledge, as insider and outsider, of Argentinian history and culture.”—Michael Taussig, Columbia University

Library Journal
Taylor (anthropology, Rice Univ.), the author of Eva Peron: The Myths of a Woman (Univ. of Chicago, 1996), here analyzes Argentine tango culture. Though born in the United States, Taylor has lived much of her life in Latin America. Her training in classical dance coupled with fluency in Spanish allow her a rare perspective: sometimes she is an outsider, sometimes a woman more Argentine than the Argentines. Taylor binds together the terror of events under military dictatorships, the role of violence, Argentine identity, male/female roles, and the tango as an expression of these elements in a unique, personal way. Photographs on every page can be flipped to view brief tango sequences. Recommended for Latin American studies and larger dance collections.--James E. Ross, WLN, Seattle
Kirkus Reviews
This very personal, idiosyncratic volume is not a celebration of the tangoþso common these daysþbut a meditation on it as an expression of Argentine identity and history. Taylor is a ballet-dancer-turned-anthropologist whose initial encounter with Argentina was a cultural study of ritual dance; she ended up in Buenos Aires learning to dance the tango. Here she broaches several themes of Argentine identity that she finds encapsulated in the tango but that have resonance beyond the countryþs boundaries. The tango as Taylor presents it is the embodiment of contradiction: the blank face and still upper body opposing the rapid movement of legs; the macho pose of the male versus his inner feeling of sadness and loss (a paradox of male identity that Taylor situates in the barrios of Buenos Aires where the tango was born); the apparent romance between the couple and their actual solitude within the dance. On a more personal level, the author conveys the passion with which devotees approach the tango, attending daily late-night dance sessions where they argue over style with as much ardor as they dance. But tango, according to Taylor, is also an expression of violence, defined in a range of ways: as dominance (of male over female), as terror (of the military junta over the Argentine people), as sexual abuse (of the author herself when she was a girl). Similarly, ambiguities in Taylorþs own sense of identity are mirrored in a corresponding ambiguity that she finds in Argentina: þthe particular forms of disorientation, loss, and uncertainty of the nationþs fate inculcated by years of terror.þ An original and profound study of the power of adance to express the heart of a culture.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780822321910
  • Publisher: Duke University Press
  • Publication date: 6/28/1998
  • Series: Public Planet Books Series
  • Pages: 124
  • Sales rank: 1,458,331
  • Product dimensions: 5.40 (w) x 7.98 (h) x 0.46 (d)

Meet the Author

Julie Taylor is Associate Professor of Anthropology at Rice University and is the author of Eva Peron: The Myths of a Woman.

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Table of Contents

Acknowledgments
Choreographing a Paper Tango
Tango: Ethos of Melancholy 1
Double Lives 13
Tangos de papel 41
Tangos and Violences: Los mareados 59
The Sad Thought Danced 79
Tangos de papel, bis 99
Afterword 119
Works Cited 123
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